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Two Clare County Firefighters Displaced After Fire at Their Own Complex

"This was the first structure fire I’ve ever gone to and unfortunately it has to be my own home."

Five people displaced after an apartment fire, two are firefighters for the department that responded to the fire.

Five departments worked against high winds and heat for nine hours to contain the fire.

It happened Saturday, destroying four apartments at Circle Court on Lake Station Avenue in Clare County.

The destruction is devastating for everyone involved, but it’s a nightmare come to life for Tommy Hawley and Myranda Pitman.

They’re firefighters for Garfield Township, the department who led Saturday’s response.

"I thought he was joking when the call went out and I was like oh this is happening," says Pitman, who just joined the department two months ago.

Hawley and Pitman were working in Grand Traverse County when they learned their friends at the department were called to a fire at their apartment.

They rushed home to help.

"I’ve been in a few fires but nothing will ever prepare you for being in your own, looking through your own stuff and deciding in a split second what’s important to you what do you need," says Hawley, who has been with the department for seven years.

Now they’re trying to figure out if anything can be saved.

"Right now I don’t have any pants or anything like that so we’re just trying to play it by ear and see what we can do with the clothes we have left," says Pitman.

The loss is just as devastating to landlords Gerry and Delores Mertens. They built this complex and three others as a retirement job.

They’re glad everyone is O.K., and they’re helping the displaced tenants.

"We’re making arrangements for them to have a roof over their head by mid week. We’ve become very close to our tenants. They’ve become our friends as well as our tenants and we care about them," says Mertens.

"It’s quite a shock. We’re used to finding people on their worst days and we we’re the people having the worse day but we had a lot of support fantastic landlords, fantastic family, fire department family, everybody has been fantastic to us," says Hawley.

The landlords are now working with their insurance company.

They’re hoping to eventually rebuild.

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